Why do we care so much about WB?

Started May 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
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sacentre
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Why do we care so much about WB?
May 4, 2012

I'm still a bit confused about this. The question is really a beginner's question but I thought it would be better to ask it in the lighting forum in the hope of some educated replies from lighting experts.

I keep wondering how much I should care about really accurate WB if I can adjust it in PP. RAW gives us a lot of latitude for manipulation and I wonder what's so important about getting WB absolutely correct with physical 18% grey cards and all that as opposed to just "OK" or "within an acceptable range" and fine tuning it later.

Simiilarly, do I need to worry so much about accurate color temp of studio lighting if I can adjust this in PP? (Obviously, I'm assuming all lights would have a similar color temp to begin with).

When I look at a range of professionally produced photos, especially from commercial or advertising photographers, I see an enormous variation in skin tone and other color or tint variations that convey mood or atmosphere or a certain "look" making me wonder what role, if any, the concern about the WB setting played.

It seems to me that literally anything that happens in a shot can be justified by the shooter saying one of two things viz: "That's what my paying client wanted" or "That's exactly how I wanted the shot to look" thus (as long as they are honest), rendering any aesthetic or technical criticisms irrelevant.

Having come from slide film, I still tend to assume that it's best to get the shot as close to perfect or what I want, as I can get in-camera but just wonder how much this still applies today.

I know that the value of PP is far more than just "correcting" inaccurate WB or whatever and I'm not suggesting that one can be totally lazy and assume that PP will take care of mistakes or gross inaccuracies. I'm just trying to settle in my mind where the increasingly blurry line between getting it accurate in the camera or adjusting in PP lies. Maybe there isn't a line.

A broader but related question is why would I need seamless roll paper backgrounds if the same thing can be added digitally? I'm not talking about fancy, special effects BGs that would be difficult or impossible to find in real life. Nor am I concerned here with the ethics of digital manipulation debate. I've pontificated at length on that elsewhere in these forums (fora?). I'm thinking of plain white or black or other solid color for that matter. What, if any, is the advantage of real paper or muslin to someone who knows how to get a 255 or 0 BG using PhotoShop layers?

Thanks for reading my ramble.

Trevor

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